A cloud of dust rose up in the road about half a mile ahead, which, together with the barking of a dog, and the “hellowing” of a loud voice, announced the approach of a drover, and interrupted the major’s story.
In which major Potter encounters A swine driver, and trades with him for an intelligent pig.
A voice crying “Schew, ho! schew, ho!” broke louder and louder upon the ear, until, beneath a cloud of dust, there appeared the snouts of some twenty lean swine, scenting the road from side to side, as if in search of food. They were followed at a short distance by a tall, square shouldered man, dressed in the homespun of the country. He carried a pair of steelyards over his shoulder, and was accompanied by his dog, a sharp eyed sagacious animal, that every few minutes coursed into the bushes by the roadside, and kept the swine in proper marching order.
The major was thrown into ecstasies at what he deemed an auspicious opportunity for another trade, and began to count his profits ere he had come up with the swine driver. A few minutes more, and the swine driver cried out at the top of a voice that seemed to have come through a tin trumpet, so grating was it, “If you kill my shoats, neighbor peddler, them tin traps of thine shall suffer as will not be good.” The major now reined up old Battle, and throwing down the reins, dismounted, and began parleying with the swine driver as to the value of his drove. “It is cruel of you,” said the major, “to be driving such lanterns to market. From thy looks, I had thought thee a better man. But, as I have a fancy for trade, if thou wilt put them at a figure low enough, and take my tinwares for pay, we may come to a trade that will profit us both.”
“To the devil with your tinware; and if you cannot get it there fast enough by any other process, mount a South Carolina ass! for it occurs to me you would look well mounted upon such an animal!” This somewhat uncourteous retort disarmed the major, who stood for a time not knowing what to say in reply. In truth, he was overawed by the sternness of the swine driver’s manner, and the terseness of the monosyllables with which he answered questions that were subsequently put to him. He had a face, too, that wore an expression grave enough for a Scotch metaphysician, and was long enough and heavy enough for a Penobscot Indian; and to which was attached a nose very like a bill-hook in shape. “Honest swine driver,” ejaculated the major, “being versed in the mysteries of human nature, and never judging men by their occupations, I took you for a gentleman; and as such, I am certain, had you but known the high quality of my reputation, you would not have insulted me.”
“That all may be,” interjaculated he of the weary face.